Differing laws from state to state concerning the child custody rules for military personnel has been a continual source of frustration for those who leave the country for deployments and come back to disputes over child custody and visitation. A national legal panel is hoping to alleviate such problems by standardizing the state laws.
The century-old panel, known as the Uniform Law Commission, is comprised of roughly 350 attorneys from across the United States. The panel is expected to grant final approval of the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act this week, and then the focus will shift to getting the laws adopted by state legislatures.
"States are all across the board on those issues, so the impetus for the uniform act was to provide states with a well-conceived piece of legislation that takes the best practices from all the states that we have seen and give them some guidance," a spokesman for the ULC said.
Military service members often face unique struggles in child custody cases. For example, it can be difficult to determine jurisdiction in many cases where military parents are deployed or sent to a base camp in another state. This is one of the issues addressed by the uniform act.
Rules regarding visitation and temporary custody arrangements can also differ greatly from state to state. Additionally, some states allow step-parents or grandparents to have visitation rights to a child when one of the parents is deployed overseas, but other states do not grant such permissions. These matters are also addressed in the uniform act.
By making military child custody laws uniform across the country, it is possible for military personnel to have a better understanding of their rights as parents. It also means less time will be spent sorting through jurisdictional issues and other time-wasting complications, allowing military members and their families to address more important factors in child custody cases.
Source: Newsday, "U.S. panel: Improve child custody rules for military," July 18, 2012